Prep shortstops Brady House, Jordan Lawlar linked to Red Sox in MLB Pipeline’s latest 2021 mock draft

In his latest mock draft for MLB Pipeline, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has the Red Sox selecting Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer with the fourth overall pick in this summer’s draft come July 11.

That much is not surprising given the fact that Mayer has previously been linked to the Red Sox.

What is surprising, though, is that Mayo links the Red Sox to two other prep shortstops in Jordan Lawlar, who he has going to the Rangers at No. 2 (in between Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker), and Brady House, who he has going to the Orioles at No. 5.

On Lawlar, Mayo writes “the Red Sox would love one of those top three to be here, particularly Leiter or Lawlar, which could easily happen if Mayer goes above.”

Lawlar, who turns 19 in July, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the third-ranked prospect in this year’s draft class, which is tops among high schoolers and all position players.

The 6-foot-2, 185 pound shortstop throws with his right hand, hits from the right side of the plate, and is committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt University.

Through 28 games played for Dallas Jesuit High School this spring, Lawlar — a Texas native — is slashing a gaudy .425/.552/.713 with four home runs and 31 RBI over 105 plate appearances.

As a Dallas-area native, Lawlar has drawn comparisons to Royals top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., who the club selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Lawlar is “a legitimate candidate” to go the Pirates at No. 1 if it’s not Leiter or Rocker.

“Lawlar is a more polished hitter than Witt was at the same stage with a quick, compact right-handed swing and a mature, patient approach, though he has struck out more than expected as a senior,” his scouting report reads. “He focuses on working the gaps and has a knack for inside-outing balls to right field. With his bat speed and the projectable strength in his 6-foot-2 frame, he should develop solid power once he adds strength and starts turning on more pitches.

“Lawlar’s plus speed plays well on the bases and in the field, and he’ll even clock some well-above-average run times on occasion. The Vanderbilt recruit is a no-doubt shortstop with plenty of range, quick hands and a strong arm, though like most youngsters he needs to improve his defensive consistency. There isn’t much to quibble with his game, though teams with age-based models won’t like that he’ll turn 19 a week after the Draft.”

Turning to House now, Mayo writes that the shortstop he projects to go to Baltimore at No. 5 “had entered last summer as the front-runner top pick, had an up-and-down showing, but righted the ship this spring, with his name starting to pop up at least as high as right above this pick.”

House, who turns 18 in June, is at the moment regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, which ranks fourth among high schoolers behind Lawlar, Mayer, and IMG Academy (Fla.) outfielder James Wood.

Like Lawlar, House — listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds — throws with his right hand and bats from the right side of the plate. The Georgia native is committed to play college baseball for the Tennessee Volunteers.

Currently wrapping up his senior year at Winder-Barrow High School in Winder, Ga., the young shortstop is slashing .573/.685/1.012 to go along with eight home runs and 19 RBI over 27 games played for the Bulldoggs, per MaxPreps.

According to his Baseball America scouting report, House “has an exciting combination of a high-level track record and a gaudy toolset to go along with it. The offensive tools are the loudest with House. He has terrific bat speed and natural strength, to go along with an advanced approach that allows him to track velocity and offspeed stuff with consistency. Scouts with history on House believe he has the ability to develop into a plus hitter, and his raw power should develop into 70-grade juice as he continues to develop. He’s already a physical and imposing hitter now, with plenty of impact to all fields and plus raw power, but there’s more to be had in the future.

“Defensively, House has easy plus arm strength — he can reach 96 mph on the mound — that could be an asset on the infield, where he has a good chance to stick. He doesn’t look like a typical pro shortstop, but evaluators have been impressed with his hands, reactions, internal clock and body control. Some believe he would be a better fit at third base, where he has all the tools to turn into an above-average defender.”

Because they own the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, the Red Sox will have approximately $6.664 million in recommended slot value to spend on said pick.

Last year, in Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Red Sox chief baseball officer, Boston took Nick Yorke — another prep infielder out of California — with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Between Yorke, Triston Casas, Jeter Downs, Brainer Bonaci, Hudson Potts, Blaze Jordan, etc., you could say that the Sox’ farm system is chockfull of infielders. So why would they draft another infielder so early to add to that crowded mix?

To put it simply, the Red Sox will not be drafting for need by the time they are on the clock in less than three months. They will instead be going after the best player available regardless of position. Whether that be a pitcher, catcher, infielder, or outfielder has yet to be determined.

Again, the draft is still three months away, so who the Sox will be taking at No. 4 really hasn’t come into focus yet.

As Mayo put it, the names linked to the Red Sox thus far are names “that make some sense and are feasible” for the club to draft. That’s it.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom and Alex Cora: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox take enticing catching prospect Henry Davis with No. 4 pick in 2021 MLB Draft?

The 2021 MLB first-year player draft is set to begin in just under three months. In case you haven’t heard, the Red Sox will be making their top selection in the draft with the fourth overall pick after finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball last season.

In his latest 2021 draft prospect rankings, The Athletic’s Keith Law listed University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis as his No. 4 draft-eligible prospect.

“Davis has mashed all year, with huge power and a patient eye, and he’s got a plus arm and enough receiving skills to stay behind the plate,” Law wrote earlier Thursday. “Joey Bart went second overall with less bat and more glove; I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Davis could be the first college position player taken.”

Davis, 21, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. Through the Cardinals’ first 30 games of the season, the third-year sophomore is slashing an impressive .389/.514/.676 with eight home runs, 32 RBI, and an ACC-leading nine stolen bases. He has also thrown out 11 of the 20 baserunners who have attempted to steal against him.

In the history of the first-year player draft — which dates back to 1965 — the Red Sox have taken a catcher in the first round on just four separate occasions, most recently selecting Blake Swihart out of Cleveland High School (Rio Rancho, NM) with the 26th overall pick (compensation pick from the Rangers for Adrian Beltre) in 2011.

The last catcher who played his college baseball at Louisville to be selected in the first round of an amateur draft was the Dodgers’ Will Smith, whom Los Angeles took with the 32nd overall pick in 2016.

Since then, Smith has risen through the prospect ranks and has emerged as one of the top young catchers in the National League, if not all of baseball.

Coming into play on Thursday, the 26-year-old is slashing .261/.438/.652 with two home runs and four RBI through his first eight games of the 2021 campaign.

This is not to say that Davis should be compared to Smith at the moment. Both backstops may be right-handed hitters who attended the same school, but one is already establishing himself as an everyday big-leaguer while the other has yet to go pro.

That said, it is worth mentioning that the last University of Louisville catcher to be selected in the first round of the draft turned out to be someone with plenty of potential in the form of Smith.

As for how Davis — a native of Bedford, N.Y. who played for the Cape League’s Bourne Braves in 2019 — is viewed in the eyes of scouts, his MLB Pipeline scouting report goes as follows:

“Davis’ standout tool is his plus-plus arm strength, and he erased 34 percent of basestealers in his first two college seasons while also displaying quick footwork and good throwing accuracy. His receiving still needs a lot of work because it lacks consistency and he sometimes struggles to handle quality stuff, as evidenced by six passed balls in just 13 starts last spring. Though he has below-average speed and conceivably could try an outfield corner, his value comes from staying behind the plate, so he’ll have to improve. 

“While he doesn’t have a pretty right-handed swing, Davis makes it work at the plate and has a higher offensive ceiling than most catchers. He manages the strike zone well and makes repeated hard contact, even if his stroke lengthens and he gets a bit pull-happy at times. His strength and controlled aggression could produce 20 homers per season.”

Whoever the Red Sox take — whether it be Davis, Marcelo Mayer, Jack Leiter, or someone else — with their top selection in this summer’s draft, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni and Co. will have approximately $6.64 million in recommended slot value to spend on the No. 4 pick.

On a somewhat related note, The Baseball Prospect Journal’s Dan Zielinski III wrote back in January that during the offseason, Davis caught bullpens for Red Sox relievers Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino.

(Picture of Henry Davis: Louisville Athletics)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Area scout Danny Watkins joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox area scout Danny Watkins, who covers Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee for the team.

Among the topics Danny and I discussed are what it’s like to be an amateur scout for a Major League Baseball team, how the scouting landscape has changed in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what it was like scouting Mookie Betts out of high school, how preparations are being made for the 2021 draft, how it is scouting Vanderbilt University’s Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Danny for taking some time out of his busy scouting schedule to have a conversation with me.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Jack Leiter, potential Red Sox draft target, strikes out 16, tosses no-hitter for Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt University right-hander and 2021 draft prospect Jack Leiter made history on Saturday, as he became the first pitcher in school history to throw a regular season no-hitter since 1971.

Making his fifth start of the season against South Carolina in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, the 20-year-old hurler walked the very first batter of the game before retiring the next 27 Gamecocks he faced in order.

In addition to yielding no hits and just one walk over nine nearly-perfect innings of work, Leiter struck out a career-high 16 batters while also inducing eight flyouts and three groundouts.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 124 (81 strikes), the New Jersey native improved to 5-0 on the season while the Commodores improved to 15-2 and 2-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

Through five starts now, Leiter owns a miniscule ERA of 0.31 over 29 total innings pitched since the college baseball season began last month.

The draft-eligible sophomore, formerly drafted by the Yankees out of high school in 2019, was already one of the hottest prospects at the top of this year’s amateur draft class, and his performance on Saturday highlighted just how high his ceiling is.

Baseball America has Leiter — the son and nephew of former major-league pitchers Al and Mark Leiter — as their No. 5 prospect headed into this July’s first-year player draft.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “the 6-foot, 195 pound righty has an above-average fastball that gets into the mid 90s at its best, and he throws both four- and two-seam variations. On top of that, Leiter has a big, downer curveball with a high spin rate that projects as a plus offering, in addition to a slider and changeup that round out his repertoire.”

The Red Sox, coming off a 2020 season in which they finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36), own the fourth overall selection in this year’s July draft.

Because they will be picking so high this year (2021 will be the first time they’ve had a top-five draft pick since 1967), Boston is in more control of who exactly they want to select and who they will eventually be selecting at No. 4 — a potential franchise-altering pick — in just under four months.

“You don’t have control over who’s picked ahead of you at 17,” Red Sox amateur scouting director Paul Toboni recently told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “You’ve got to cover a wider pool of players. This year, we get to make the decision: Let’s figure out who is in our top five, six, seven, eight — whatever number you want to throw out — and scout those players really, really hard.”

Along with Leiter, other college pitchers the Sox could target at No. 4 include fellow Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker and Louisiana State University righty Jaden Hill, though restrictions put in place as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic limit how thoroughly the club can evaluate these prospects.

“Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, I won’t be at every game but I will watch every one of their starts [on video],” Toboni said. “We’ll probably have a scout at close to every one of their starts. That’s partly because they’re really good players and it’s also partly because Vanderbilt is only allowing one scout from each club at every game. In order to have seven or eight evaluations, we sort of have to.”

One scout in particular who will be monitoring Rocker and Leiter closely between now and July will be area scout Danny Watkins, who covers Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee for the Sox. He is probably most known for signing Mookie Betts out of high school in 2011.

“I’m a duck in water again,” Watkins told Speier. “I get to do all these things that kind of get me going… It’s exciting. You really get to kind of shoot for the moon a little bit.”

The college baseball season runs through late June, and the potential remains for the Red Sox to take a prep prospect — like high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer — at No. 4 as well, so this is not to say we know who exactly Boston will be taking with their top pick come July 11.

It’s just that, with the MLB Draft only being a few months away, “the process of identifying targets for the draft” — as Speier put it — “is well underway.”

(Picture of Jack Leiter: Vanderbilt Athletics)

Potential Red Sox draft target, University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian a name to watch as college baseball season kicks off Friday

The 2021 college baseball season begins on Friday, and with the Red Sox making their top selection in this July’s amateur draft with the fourth overall pick, this season could stand out significantly.

Several draft-eligible prospects have been linked to the Sox already, but sticking with the college baseball theme here, one name to watch in particular this spring is University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian.

Back in December, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had Boston selecting the 20-year-old with their top pick in the upcoming draft, writing that “Fabian might be the most polarizing prospect among the eight players who seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the Draft class at this point. He could have the most usable power in the Draft and may stay in center field, but he also has hit just .250 with a 22-percent strikeout rate in two seasons at Florida.”

Fabian, who turns 21 in September, is rather young for a junior on account of the fact he enrolled early at Florida and skipped his senior year of high school.

In his first two seasons as Gator, the right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder has slashed .250/.368/.466 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI over 73 total games played while primarily patrolling center field.

He did carry with him an OPS of 1.010 through his first 17 games of the 2020 campaign before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the SEC to cancel its college baseball season last March.

According to his FanGraphs scouting report, Fabian “has a rare, unfavorable ‘backwards’ profile — he hits right and throws left, limiting him to 1B/OF — but looks like he’ll hit enough for that not to matter. While his lower half has gotten a little heavier and softer since high school, Fabian still has a fairly athletic swing, and his hitting hands work in an explosive loop that give him low-ball power. His hands load deep and high, and Fabian’s bat path doesn’t always look like it’s going to work, but he still covers the zone from (nearly) top to bottom and can pull his hands in to get the barrel on inside pitches.”

Listed at 6-foot and 190 lbs., the Ocala, Fla. native already has at least one connection to the Red Sox since he was teammates with outfield prospect Wil Dalton for a year in Gainesville.

In a recent appearance on Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, Dalton, Boston’s eighth-round draft selection in 2019, raved about Fabian and what he can bring to the table at the next level.

“Jud came in my junior year. He was an early grad out of high school, so he enrolled early and skipped his senior year of high school,” Dalton said in January. “Coming in, we were like, ‘Okay, the kid’s obviously going to be good, coming to the University of Florida, but you’re also coming early.’ So, we knew the kid could play.

“But I’ll say this, not only is he doing what I figured he would do now, he worked for every ounce of it,” added Dalton. “And that’s why I have so much respect for him. The dude truly is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. He believes in himself, he’s very confident in his abilities, and it shows when he plays. Everything that he does is a straight reward for all the hard work he puts in, and he deserves every bit of it and it’s been great to see that. Anybody that gets to draft him this year is getting one hell of a player. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Red Sox pick him up, at all. In all honesty, it would be a great pick. Kid comes from a great family, a great work ethic. Most of all, he’s a great overall person to represent an organization.”

When asked if Fabian could surpass Vanderbilt University right-hander Kumar Rocker — the consensus top prospect in this year’s draft class — this spring and become the No. 1 pick in July, Dalton did not mince his words.

“I have no doubt in that,” he said. “I mean, he’s got the ability to do it. I’ve seen the kid hit baseballs farther than somebody his size ever should hit a baseball.”

Fabian’s Florida Gators, the top team in the country, open their season against Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s 21st-ranked Miami Hurricanes in Gainesville on Friday evening.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. eastern time and you can watch the game on the SEC Network.

(Picture of Jud Fabian: Gary McCullough/AP)

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking Eastlake High School shortstop Marcelo Mayer with top pick

Come this July, the Red Sox will be picking within the top five in the MLB first-year player draft for the first time since 1967, when the club took high school right-hander Mike Garman with its top pick at No. 3 overall.

Coming off a 2020 season in which they finished with the fourth-worst record in baseball, it goes without saying that the Red Sox selecting fourth in the 2021 draft will be a key moment for the franchise as they move forward under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

The draft still may be many a month away, but more and more mock drafts are starting to get released in recent weeks.

Last month, MLB.com’s Jim Callis had the Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with their top selection. And just this week, Baseball America released their ‘2021 MLB Mock Draft Version 1.0.

At No. 4, BA’s Carlos Collazo has the Red Sox taking Eastlake High School (Calif.) shortstop Marcelo Mayer.

“Many clubs believe Southern California shortstop Marcelo Mayer is the best pure hitter in the prep class, and it’s rare for that profile to last long in the draft,” Collazo writes. “In recent years, the perceived best pure high school hitters have all been selected among the top 10 picks: OF Jarred Kelenic went No. 6 to the Mets in 2018, OF Riley Greene went No. 5 to the Tigers in 2019 and OF Robert Hassell went No. 8 to the Padres in 2020. Mayer has the superior defensive profile to all those hitters, which should create a lofty realistic range for him.”

Mayer, 18, is set to graduate from Eastlake High in Chula Vista this spring. He is currently committed to play college baseball at the University of Southern California.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 180 lbs., Mayer hits from the left side of the plate while throwing with his right hand.

He didn’t get too much of an opportunity to showcase himself in 2020 on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he did participate in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Oklahoma City back in September.

There, according to the folks over at Prospects Live, Mayer “had a good night with a firm base hit up the middle and some impressive actions on the dirt.”

FanGraphs‘ scouting report for Mayer goes as follows:

Mayer is a graceful infield defender with a very projectable frame. His swing currently prioritizes contact. He has terrific vertical plate coverage and generates all-fields spray, but he’s also shown an ability to turn on and punish pitches inside with power. His frame is nearly identical to Izaac Pachecho’s, but Mayer has a better chance to stay at short and has more room to fill out, so he’s slightly ahead of Pacheco here.

Because the draft is still so far away, the Red Sox taking Mayer with their top selection is no sure thing, as eligible prospects are likely to see their stock rise and fall between now and July, especially with high school and college baseball still to be played in some capacity this spring.

Having said that, Mayer is someone the Red Sox are presumably quite familiar with already given the hype that has been surrounding him. It would be interesting to ask J.J. Altobelli, the team’s Southern California amateur area scout, about that.

And for what it’s worth, in Bloom’s first draft as chief baseball officer, Boston took another high school infielder in Nick Yorke, who also hails from California and was committed to play college ball at a Pac-12 school (Arizona).

(Top picture of Mayer: Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with top pick

The 2021 Major League Baseball first-year player draft may still be seven months away, but the Red Sox already know they will be picking fourth in said draft thanks to finishing the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36).

Since the inception of the amateur draft in 1965, Boston has made its first selection within the top four on just two occasions in 1966 and 1967, so it goes without saying the upcoming draft will serve as an important hallmark for the franchise.

Though the 2021 high school and college baseball seasons are still a ways away from starting, next year’s potential draft class is already starting to take shape, even with possible COVID-19-related obstacles on the horizon.

That being said, MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently released his first round of predictions for which amateur prospects will be taken within the top-10 picks of July’s draft, and he has the Red Sox selecting University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian at No. 4.

“Fabian might be the most polarizing prospect among the eight players who seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the Draft class at this point,” Callis wrote. “He could have the most usable power in the Draft and may stay in center field, but he also has hit just .250 with a 22-percent strikeout rate in two seasons at Florida.”

Fabian, who turned 20 in September, is about to embark on his junior season for the Gators this coming spring.

The right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing center fielder out of Ocala, Fla. came into 2020 as a preseason All-Southeastern Conference second teamer. He posted an impressive .294/.407/.603 slash line to go along with five home runs and 13 RBI over 17 games played before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced the SEC to suspend its baseball season in mid-March.

Still, Fabian managed to salvage the year by taking part in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, where he went 14-for-46 (.304) at the plate with a pair of homers and 11 runs driven in across 19 games for the Orlando Scorpions.

He also spent the summer of 2019 on the Cape with the Bourne Braves.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., Fabian very well could have been drafted out of Trinity Catholic High School in 2019 had he not skipped his senior season in order to enroll early at Florida. He has the advantage over other college prospects on account of the fact that he will be younger than the average junior.

Per his FanGraphs scouting report, Fabian “has a rare, unfavorable ‘backwards’ profile — he hits right and throws left, limiting him to 1B/OF — but looks like he’ll hit enough for that not to matter. While his lower half has gotten a little heavier and softer since high school, Fabian still has a fairly athletic swing, and his hitting hands work in an explosive loop that give him low-ball power. His hands load deep and high, and Fabian’s bat path doesn’t always look like it’s going to work, but he still covers the zone from (nearly) top to bottom and can pull his hands in to get the barrel on inside pitches.”

In recent years, the Red Sox have leaned more towards taking high school talent — Nick Yorke, Triston Casas, Jay Groome, Michael Chavis, Michael Kopech — with their first-round selection.

As it turns out though, the last two college prospects Boston has taken in the first round have both come out of the SEC, as right-hander Tanner Houck was drafted out of Missouri with the 24th overall pick in 2017 and outfielder Andrew Benintendi was drafted out of Arkansas with the seventh overall pick in 2015.

It’s Official: Red Sox Will Pick Fourth Overall in 2021 MLB Draft

After finishing with the fourth-worst record in Major League Baseball in 2020 (24-36), the Red Sox will be making their first selection in the 2021 amateur draft with the fourth overall pick, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

The Sox picking fourth next July has been assumed since the conclusion of the regular season last month, but thanks to MLB’s decision to determine the draft order based off clubs’ 2020 records rather than clubs’ 2020 and 2019 records, it is now official.

Picking behind the Pirates, Rangers, and Tigers and ahead of the Orioles this coming July, Boston will pick in the top-five of a first-year player draft for the first time since 1967, when right-hander Mike Garman was picked third overall.

In terms of who the Red Sox could take with the No. 4 pick next summer, it’s still very early, but Florida’s Jud Fabian, LSU’s Jaden Hill, Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter, and UCLA’s Matt McLain are some preliminary prospects to monitor going into the 2021 college baseball season.